How to break out of a narrow frame
From the time you were a teenager, you’ve found yourself stuck with narrow choices: Should I go to the party or not?
When you became a manager: Should I fire this guy or keep him? And once a father: Should we go for Mexican or Chinese?
But these experiences have not left you much wiser. What has not changed? You still lack a playbook. You’re still a prisoner of narrow problem framing.
Going to the party is not the only thing you can do with your time. Firing and keeping may not be the only options available.
Three ways to break out of a narrow frame…
👉𝐀𝐬𝐤 ‘𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐞𝐥𝐬𝐞 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐈 𝐝𝐨?’ Going to the party is not the only thing you can do with your time. Consider the opportunity cost. Could you catch a movie? Go for a show? Hang out with family?
👉𝐃𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐕𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐎𝐩𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐭𝐞𝐬𝐭. Imagine both options you were considering–fire someone or keep him in the team–have vanished. Could you get him an internal transfer to somewhere he’s better suited?
👉𝐓𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐓𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐓𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐨𝐩𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧. Instead of making an either-or decision, look for a both-and decision. Your son wants Mexican; daughter, Chinese. What do you do? Go to a food court. The food may be average and overpriced but at least there’ll be domestic peace.
Broadening the problem frame works just as well for bigger decisions: Should you acquire a company or not? Should you continue in our relationship or not? Should you change jobs or not?
A narrow problem frame is like a spotlight. When you widen the frame, you change your spotlight to floodlights. You see more. You see better.
How do you break out of a narrow frame? Let me know in the comments!